Acceleron pitches $75M IPO as Celgene pushes partnership through PhII

Acceleron has jumped into the crowded IPO ring, looking to raise about $75 million at a time when a long lineup of biotech companies has tapped public markets for more than $1.5 billion from maiden offerings.

Long allied with Celgene ($CELG), Cambridge, MA-based Acceleron--a 2010 Fierce 15 company--is building its road show around three mid-stage programs: Sotatercept, ACE-536 and dalantercept. The first two are allied with Celgene as new treatments designed to boost red blood cell production in patients suffering from rare cases of beta-thalassemia and myelodysplastic syndromes. ACE-536 won orphan drug status for both indications back in March. And dalantercept is designed to inhibit blood vessels that feed tumors.

Celgene initially signed on back in 2008, more recently expanding its collaboration to include 536. According to Acceleron's S-1, filed with the SEC, Celgene took over responsibility for all costs on the two programs at the beginning of this year and is committed to pay up to $567 million in milestones. Acceleron has co-promotion rights in the U.S. with a hefty 20%-plus royalty stream due on any sales made by Celgene.

"We and Celgene plan to initiate Phase III clinical trials for one or both of these protein therapeutic candidates in one or both of b-thalassemia and MDS by the end of 2014 or early 2015," Acceleron notes in the S-1.

So far, dalantercept is not partnered. And all three of the drugs are being targeted at a dozen different indications in a long slate of clinical studies.

At the end of March Acceleron had only $38.5 million in cash and equivalents on hand and counted a cumulative deficit of $292 million--a classic financial profile for a biotech company that's long on R&D and short of any product revenue. Up until the end of last year, that was the kind of bottom line that drove investors away, but in a burst of IPO activity in the second quarter investors threw aside years of caution and once again embraced the enormous risk involved in drug development.

How long this phase will last is anybody's guess, but Acceleron isn't waiting around to find out.

- here's the S-1

Special Report: Acceleron Pharma - 2010 Fierce 15

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